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A look at older workers and injuries in the workplace

There is a wide variety of reasons for older citizens to work past retirement age. For some, their motivation is purely financial: they need to continue to earn money. Social Security retirement is simply not going to cover all of their bills.

For others, work provides an opportunity to stay active and fit. And other senior citizens keep on working -- often for nonprofit organizations -- for social and political causes important to them. Safety experts say they are carefully watching post-retirement workplace injury figures as older Americans continue to grow as a significant segment in the U.S. workforce.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that slightly more than one-fourth of the U.S. workforce will be comprised of workers ages 55 and up by the year 2022.

Experts say employers and employees alike should be aware that older workers are more vulnerable to certain types of injuries and that everyone should be aware of circumstances that can pose risks. They also say employers should be ready to make accommodations for older employees.

“Due to a number of factors, many Americans are working later in life, with some even returning to the workforce after an initial retirement,” said a vice president at a workers’ compensation provider for small businesses.

A workers' compensation attorney said many employers are actively looking to add older workers to their labor pools. That's because older workers "tend to be very reliable because they are very motivated to be in the labor force." Plus, employers can often hire part-time older workers who need minimal benefits, he said. They don't need health insurance, for instance, the lawyer said, because they are already covered by Medicare.

A safety expert said older workers tend to suffer fewer injuries, but that the injuries they do incur in the workplace tend to be more severe and have longer-lasting effects.

If you have been injured on the job, you can speak with a workers' comp attorney about an appeal of a denied claim and your other legal options.

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